No duty-free favouritism, warns Atherley
Charging that there already existed favouritism in the issuing of public contracts in the construction sector, Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) politician Joseph Atherley is warning against a similar situation if Government established duty-free zones here.
Atherley’s warning at BLP St Michael West branch meeting Sunday night, was in response to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s announcement last week that Government intended to establish a number of duty-free shopping zones.
During his presentation of the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposal, Sinckler said the decision was based on Government’s effort to both earn and save foreign exchange since “most Barbadians could have the option of no longer having to travel” abroad to shop.
The minister said at the time that areas identified for the zones included Bridgetown, Holetown, Hastings/Worthing, and the two main ports of entry in Barbados.
However, Atherley, who will contest the St Michael West seat for the BLP, cautioned Barbadians to keep an eye on the administration to ensure it did not allow only a privileged few to benefit.
“The privilege to get capital works projects awarded to your company is being consolidated in the hands of a couple big companies to the detriment and disadvantage of small contractors in Barbados,” he said, charging that some contractors were “struggling for work in this new situation”.
“I don’t want to see what happened in construction happen with reference to the duty-free areas, where only certain people with certain names, or certain people with certain amounts of capital are given the opportunity to set up or invest in one of the duty free areas.”
The BLP candidate said he was also worried that Barbadians would flock to the duty-free shops to the detriment of businesses that do not offer similar services.